The controller is the essential peripheral of a console. It is often the paddle that defines it, even identifies it: Xbox Controller at Microsoft, Dual Shock 4 at Sony, pending the DualSense. Not at all the same shape according to the manufacturer, very different buttons and clearly opposite joystick locations. Just leave your controller lying around on the coffee table in the living room for your playing friends to immediately identify which team you are racing for.
For the next gen, Sony has decided to break with tradition by releasing a brand new controller. Microsoft, for its part, is staying the course and its new controller designed for Xbox Series X seems made of the same wood as the previous ones. At least, apparently.
In terms of form, it’s true that Microsoft’s new controller looks a lot like the old one. However, when we observe it with a little more attention, we perceive some differences. And it’s only when you have it in hand and start using it that you appreciate all the changes.
The visible differences
- The multidirectional cross : it does not look like any of the crosses of the traditional Xbox stable. same the last Elite does not have one of this form. The arrows are no longer embedded in the hull, it is a round support, slightly hollowed out in its center, which is now in their place.
Its slightly grainy plastic coating (and no longer shiny plastic) is very pleasant to the touch and the thumb naturally comes to take place. It should be noted – by the way – that the head of the joystick is, conversely, less hollowed out than those of the previous controllers.
- The Share button : he is the new kid on the block. It was not present on the old Xbox One paddles. It lives up to its name, it is well placed, too.
With a pressure on his head when you are in the middle of a game, you launch an image or video capture capture. It works well and it will change the lives of those who like to immortalize their feats of arms in various ways.
If you press it while in the main menu, you have access to the menu below.
- Bumpers : the buttons located on the back edge of the controller, the bumpers – the RB and LB keys – are thinner, more curved towards the outer edges of the controller. Their plastic coating is satin on the upper half and embossed on the lower part. Their stroke is slightly shorter than that of their counterparts on the controller supplied with the Xbox One X.
- The triggers : there are also changes. The shiny plastic has vanished. The break between the top and the outer edges is much less marked to the eye, almost imperceptible to the touch.
Like the bumpers, the triggers have a double coating: satin on the sides, in relief on the front. Their action curve is shorter. Much shorter.
Finally, seen from above, we can better appreciate the improvements made to the back of the Series X controller (above). There is no longer a black plastic rim and the bumpers protrude much less
- The Xbox button : until now it was located in a more hollow part of the controller, probably to prevent it from being accidentally hit. The new controller model puts all the buttons on the same level
- Tilt : It’s an impression that is confirmed once you take the Series X paddle in hand: all the controls are slightly more tilted forward than on the old model. Great transition to give you our first impressions!
The invisible differences and the first sensations
Consequences of the changes of form, the substance is turned upside down. But in good from our point of view. Microsoft has long been criticized for the lack of finesse in its lines and sometimes a little slow reactivity of its controllers. The discourse will undoubtedly change with this new controller.
For example, the ends of the joystick are a little further apart but, to counterbalance this, at the level of the multidirectional cross and the joystick, the width is reduced by a few millimeters. The rounded edges are very comfortable, the lever fits well in the palms. In addition, orienting all the upper keys towards the front has allowed Microsoft to increase the depth of the case a little bit (a few millimeters), which is enough for the fingers to find their place better.
As we said, changing the shapes and sizes of the bumpers as well as the triggers has a direct impact on their behavior and responsiveness. And, sorry, but … it’s the foot. Even if we play with our hands.
If you’ve only ever used the base Xbox controller, switching from the One or One X to the Series X is going to take a bit of time to get your hands on those new back buttons. If you have one of the two Elites, the transition will be easier.
The front buttons (ABYX) have not moved. They always make the same sonorous plastic noise when pressed on their head and their stroke length remains the same. There, we would have liked Microsoft to take inspiration from the Elite to improve them. Clearly.
Our thumbs were also more comfortable on the joysticks as well as on the multidirectional cross. The fact that the controller is tilted slightly forward, again, plays. It made us feel like we were making a smaller gesture when switching from the front buttons to the right stick in action or first person shooter games.
On the other hand, what we did not have, but then really did not appreciate … is the raised plastic which is on two thirds of the inner surface of the ends of the lever and on a good part of the triggers and bumpers.
These are only our first impressions, however, and we will only be able to deliver our final verdict in a few weeks. Maybe by then that little coating problem won’t be a problem anymore.